A Loxahatchee community took matters into their own hands to protect their animals and property.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has charged a man for stealing a cow that was slaughtered on New Year's Eve.
Since January, farm owners and locals in the small community of Santa Rosa Groves added gates to all of their back roads, limiting access to strangers who are just driving out there to cause trouble.
"It's getting the word out that don't come out here and mess with us or our animals," said Elizabeth Accomando, owner of Barky Pines Animal Rescue and Sanctuary.
Accomando and her neighbors found a way to deter danger in their small tightknit Loxahatchee community.
"We created a presence, almost like a front line presence," said Accomando.
She moved to her animal rescue sanctuary full time after news that animal carcasses were being dumped on properties in Loxahatchee. The closest to home, a severed cow leg found on Dennis Street.
"It was frightening, it really was. We were very concerned for our neighbors, our animals," she said.
Since then Accomando and her neighbors added gates to back roads leading to the properties and cameras. Recently, they learned the man deputies say stole the cow was already behind bars for other crimes that also affected Santa Rosa Groves.
"Signs and fencing that was being taken down," said Accomando.
An arrest report says Dylan Back, 20, was involved in car thefts in Lake Worth and dumped the cars in Loxahatchee, but not before taking out street signs, plants, and fencing.
Accomando said after learning what was happening, she's glad she and her neighbors put up a united front.
"It's not an easy mark so to speak anymore, 'oh we'll just go out there and do whatever," said added Accomando.
It was a bottle of water detectives say left behind at the slaughter scene that matched Back's DNA. The arrest report says detectives obtained a DNA sample from Back while questioning him for other crimes. He has a list of charges from arrests in January for allegedly breaking into a construction site in Royal Palm Beach, stealing cars in Lake Worth, and burglaries in Pahokee.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Offce's report said there may be other possible suspects in the cow theft that led to the animal's mutilation.